WSJ.com ran an interesting article today in which Brian Dye, Symantec Corp.’s (SYMC) senior vice president for information security, declared that antivirus “is dead.” This is a shocking revelation coming from the company that pioneered computer security in the late 1980s with its antivirus software. The success of antivirus software has fallen sharply as hackers use bugs that are getting more sophisticated all the time. Mr. Dye estimates antivirus now catches just 45% of cyber attacks.

Instead of focusing on keeping hackers from accessing your computer, there is a shift to minimizing the damage hackers can do once they are in. In effect, the industry has resigned itself to the fact the hackers, eventually, will get in.

The article mentions Network-equipment maker Juniper Networks Inc. (JNPR), who wants customers to place fake data inside their firewalls to distract hackers. Shape Security Inc., a Silicon Valley start-up, assumes that hackers will steal passwords and credit-card numbers so it seeks to make it difficult to use the stolen information. FireEye Inc. (FEYE) has created technology that scans networks for malicious-looking computer code that made it past the first line of defense.

For a company such as Symantec, a shift away from front-line antivirus is significant, since its antivirus software, Norton, and other products that run on individual devices still account for more than 40% of the company’s revenue. While the company has no plans to abandon Norton, it will find revenue growth in its new product lines, Dye says.

 

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Wayne Thorp
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is editor of Computerized Investing and a vice president and the senior financial analyst at The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII). He is also the program manager for AAII's Stock Investor Pro fundamental stock screening and research database program and is on the advisory boards of AAII's Stock Superstars Report and Dividend Investing newsletters. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a 1997 honors graduate of DePaul University in Chicago. Wayne's interests include stock screening, technical analysis and charting, social media and tech gadgets. However, in the summer he'd prefer to be hip-deep in northern Michigan's Manistee River fly-fishing for rainbow trout.

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